As WIPO's Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights met in Geneva to discuss exceptions for libraries and archives, the International Publishers Association's Secretary General, Jens Bammel, cautioned against changing the system.

He explained that the current international legal framework provides a solid framework for adapting exceptions and limitations to the digital environment. Given the continuous and diverse reforms of copyright laws taking place at national level, there was little to be said for trying to construct a consensual text at a global level.

Libraries and archives are changing dramatically, at different speeds and in different ways around the world. The IPA believes that WIPO can best support its member states by providing flexible, tailored legislative assistance to those states who need it, sharing best practice and updating member states.

Copyright exceptions and limitations for libraries and archives

How can WIPO best support its member states?

The IPA would like to comment on the discussions of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) on exceptions for libraries and archives.

This issue is very different from the issue of accessibility for persons with print disability: nearly 90 per cent of the observable copyright laws of WIPO Member States have exceptions or limitations for libraries and/or archives.

The current international legal framework, in particular the WIPO treaties, provides a robust and flexible framework for the adaptation of such exceptions and limitations to the digital environment. There is no need for change.

Many of the issues currently under discussion have been addressed in a variety of ways in different Member States, following their own individual policy objectives, making use of their sovereign policy space and implementing them in accordance with their legal traditions.

Given the evidence for gradual, continuous and diverse reforms of copyright laws at national level, there is extremely limited value, if any, in constructing a consensual text within the WIPO SCCR. Such a text can only be either too prescriptive to truly assist national governments or too broad to add anything by way of international consensus.

This is particularly true in the area of supporting libraries and archives, which are currently changing dramatically, at different speeds and in different ways around the world.

So, how can WIPO best support its member states? By enabling the WIPO Secretariat to provide flexible, well-informed and tailored legislative assistance to those member states that request it. By sharing best practice and updating member states in the appropriate clusters mentioned in the WIPO SCCR text.

IPA and its member associations are happy to support this process and we look forward to working with you as the digital environment for libraries and archives continues to change, and as publishers change the way they provide libraries with books, digital products and services.

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